On Thursday morning, shortly after 9 am, at Taft Union High School in Taft, California, a 16 year old student walked into a classroom with 28 students and a teacher and shot another student with a shotgun, he then fired two more rounds at fleeing students.
The teacher, Ryan Heber, then coaxed the assailant into turning the gun over to him.
The teen victim, who classmates said played football for the Taft Wildcats, was in critical but stable condition at a Kern County Hospital. He was expected to undergo surgery on Friday.
When the suspect surrendered the shotgun to Heber and counselor Kim Lee Fields, his pockets were stuffed with more ammunition.
“This teacher and this counselor stood there face to face not knowing if he was going to shoot them,” Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood said. “They probably expected the worst and hoped for the best, but they gave the students a chance to escape.
The shooting took place in a remote town of 9,400 120 miles northwest of Los Angeles.
Early reports are that the teen shooter felt bullied and went home Wednesday night plotting revenge. Authorities say he found a gun in the home that apparently belonged to an older brother.
“He planned the event,” Youngblood said. “He believed that the two people he targeted had bullied him, in his mind. Whether that occurred or not we don’t know yet.
Video surveillance cameras show the suspect looking nervous as he entered the school through a side door, Youngblood said. He made his way to the second floor of the schools science building, where Heber’s 1st hour science class was under way.
The suspect walked in a door close to the front of the classroom and shot his classmate. When the shots were fired Heber tried to get the students out the back door and then engaged the shooter in a conversation to distract him, Youngblood said.
School officials said a female student was hospitalized with possible hearing damage because the shotgun was fired close to her ear, and another girl suffered minor injuries during the scramble to flee.
Youngblood said the suspect would be charged with attempted murder. The District Attorney will decide whether he’s charged as an adult, Youngblood said.